Building Peace through the Classroom: How Education Can Transform the Nature of Conflicts Nirina Kiplagat
“Twelve years ago, while I was working in the Conflict Resolution Programme of the Carter Centre, I was part of a team that organized workshops for youth from divided societies. One of the youth groups came from the Cincinnati Museum Center. Due to heightened inter-racial tensions and riots in Cincinnati, interactions among the young people in the program had become strained. During the workshop, we conducted exercises on such topics as prejudice, stereotyping, active listening, reframing and mediation. I was particularly struck by how these simple exercises resonated so deeply among these young people. I saw them have their “Aha!” moments as they began to view one another with a different lens…”
Having worked in post conflict contexts it is still amazng to see how ‘uncivilised’ people have become and how the level of conflict has increased. What is more disturbing are the attacks on children , teachers and schools as well as other civilian targets which now seem much easier than traditional military targets. As an optimist I still believe it is worth working with the next generation to build a more peaceful future through providing young people opportunities to take more repsonsibility within their communities, so as to build skills of peaceful conflict resolution.
Some examples of peacebuilding initiatives have been provided by INEE
Civic Education and Peacebuilding: Examples from Iraq and Sudan
(United States Institute of Peace)
Between 2006 and 2010, the United States Institute of Peace developed several civic education programs for Iraq and Sudan as part of broader efforts to promote postconflict stability and development and help prevent a return to violence. This report describes those programs after first examining the conceptual bases for civic education and how they differ from and overlap with human rights. It also discusses various challenges civic education programs face in postconflict environments and suggests several ways to overcome these challenges, as illustrated in the cases of Iraq and Sudan.
To download the full report, and learn more about the civic education and peacebuliding initatives in Iraq and Sudan, visit the website here.
If you are a teacher and an activist -take a look here:
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Peace Education Teacher Professional Development Program
(Teachers Without Borders)
Teachers Without Borders will soon be launching it’s teacher professional development program in peace education. It will be available free online, and will also be introduced through workshops, the first one set to take place in Jos, Nigeria.
The Teachers Without Borders Peace Education Teacher Development Program supports teachers in expanding their peacemaking capacities by giving them an easy-to-use, practical guide to peace education. Through peace education, teachers play an important role in creating a world where peace, equality, diversity, and unity prevail. Very simply, peace education is teaching peace – the knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, and behaviors that are necessary to promote peace and nonviolence in society.
For more information on the curriculum, click here.
The International Day of Peace, observed each year on 21 September, is a global call for ceasefire and non-violence. This year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling on young people around the world to take a stand for peace under the theme, Youth for Peace and Development.
UNMIT / UN Photo
The United Nations is looking for stories from young people around the world who are working for peace. The campaign slogan this year isPeace=Future, The math is easy.”
This year, the International Day of Peace (IDP) falls within the same time period as a major summit on the Millennium Development Goals, the world’s largest anti-poverty campaign. The Summit brings world leaders together at the United Nations in New York from
20 – 22 September.
In addition, the UN General Assembly has proclaimed 2010 asInternational Year of Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding. A campaign to be launched by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) on 12 August will promote the ideals of respect for human rights and solidarity across generations, cultures, religions, and civilizations. Those are key elements that reinforce the foundations of a sustainable peace.
Youth, peace and development are closely interlinked: Peace enables development, which is critical in providing opportunities for young people, particularly those in countries emerging from conflict. Healthy, educated youth are in turn crucial to sustainable development and peace. Peace, stability and security are essential to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, aimed at slashing poverty, hunger, disease, and maternal and child death by 2015.
The Secretary-General has recognized the incredible potential of youth which must be tapped to ensure these goals are met in their lifetimes.
Each year, the Secretary-General, his Messengers of Peace, the entire UN system and many individuals, groups and organizations around the world use the Day of Peace to engage in activities that contribute to ceasefires, end conflict, bridge cultural divides and create tolerance.
On 13 June 2010, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the 100-day countdown to the International Day of Peace, calling on young people around the world to submit their stories via social media, detailing what they do for peace.
This year (2010) Peace One Day has partnered with Skype to develop and launch the Peace One Day Global Education Resource. Available in the six official languages of the United Nations: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), English, French, Russian and Spanish, the Resource includes 13 interactive, student-centred lesson plans, with accompanying student resources.
Included in this resource, and in all new editions, is a new lesson – ‘Intercultural Cooperation’ – enabling young people to connect with others in different countries using free Skype software. Young people are encouraged to explore cooperation on Peace Day and build lasting bridges with other cultures.
As with all Peace One Day education materials, the Global Education Resource is designed to be used in conjunction with The Day After Peace Documentary.
INEE has provided reference to a new report on community participation:
(UNESCO/IIEP and CfBT Education Trust)
Community participation is a much-acknowledged and important part of the field of education in emergencies. A recent report released by UNESCO and the CfBT Education Trust explores the roles communities play in providing education, and the conditions that can either obstruct or encourage their involvement, in both emergency and reconstruction settings including among Iraqi refugees in Jordan and within communities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Southern Sudan, Uganda and Liberia.
Focusing on the types of roles that communities play, and the factors that encourage and discourage participation, the report chronicles both successes and challenges various communities have faced in their efforts to provide education during times of conflict and reconstruction.
I have often thought that the results of new research on the brain and accelerated forms of learning should be more accessible to developing countries. In my work I have been able to use research on the brain to challenge accepted forms of discipline and provide reasoned discussion about children’s rights. This report , by the Norwegian Refugee Council, formulates the advantages of using accelerated learning methods in post conflict contexts and suggests further improvements to such an approach.
Evaluation of the Accelerated Learning Program in Liberia
NRC has recently had an evaluation done of the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) in Liberia, which has been running since 2005. The main conclusions in the evaluation of the ALP in Liberia are:
The education delivered through the programme has been of high quality measured both by the fairly high retention rates and performance levels of ALP learners.
A main reason for this achievement has been the frequent teacher support and supervision which have ensured teacher attendance and quality of teaching.
The ALP curriculum does not sufficiently take into account the learning needs of children which have never been to school.
The additional components of young mothers’ classes and adult literacy have contributed to improved attendance- and completion rates among girls.
To strengthen sustainability NRC should have ensured stronger collaboration and coordination with the Liberia Ministry of Education at national and local levels.
The evaluation is being used to develop NRC’s exit strategy from the ALP program in Liberia, and also to inform ALP programs in other NRC Country Programs.
The evaluation is being used to develop NRC’s exit strategy from the ALP program in Liberia (NRC will begin to phase out in June 2010) and also to inform ALP programs in other NRC Country Programs.
“I am Shazia and I am the only daughter of my parents. They always tell me that they want me to be educated because my parents work in the field all the time. We have a house in the mountains, but we don’t have water, wood and food most of the time. I have learned a lot. In my village everyone tells their children, ‘please learn from Shazia and attend school’.
“I love my school friends – they are very good girls.”
We know that investing in education, particularly for girls, can help re-buld a society.
There are several compelling benefits associated with girls’ education, which include the reduction of child and maternal mortality, improvement of child nutrition and health, lower fertility rates, enhancement of women’s domestic role and their political participation, improvement of the economic productivity and growth, and protection of girls from HIV/AIDS, abuse and exploitation. Girls’ education yields some of the highest returns of all development investments, yielding both private and social benefits that accrue to individuals, families, and society at large.
Lets think about arguments for investing more in education or increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan. The following is an article by Nicholas Kristof, New York Times
Dispatching more troops to Afghanistan would be a monumental bet and probably a bad one, most likely a waste of lives and resources that might simply empower the Taliban. In particular, one of the most compelling arguments against more troops rests on this stunning trade-off: For the cost of a single additional soldier stationed in Afghanistan for one year, we could build roughly 20 schools there.
It’s hard to do the calculation precisely, but for the cost of 40,000 troops over a few years – well, we could just about turn every Afghan into a Ph.D.
The hawks respond: It’s naïve to think that you can sprinkle a bit of education on a war-torn society. It’s impossible to build schools now because the Taliban will blow them up.
In fact, it’s still quite possible to operate schools in Afghanistan – particularly when there’s a strong “buy-in” from the local community.
Greg Mortenson, author of “Three Cups of Tea,” has now built 39 schools in Afghanistan and 92 in Pakistan – and not one has been burned down or closed. The aid organization CARE has 295 schools educating 50,000 girls in Afghanistan, and not a single one has been closed or burned by the Taliban. The Afghan Institute of Learning, another aid group, has 32 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with none closed by the Taliban (although local communities have temporarily suspended three for security reasons).
In short, there is still vast scope for greater investment in education, health and agriculture in Afghanistan. These are extraordinarily cheap and have a better record at stabilizing societies than military solutions, which, in fact, have a pretty dismal record.
Already our troops have created a backlash with Kabul University students this week burning President Obama in effigy until police dispersed them with gunshots. The heavier our military footprint, the more resentment – and perhaps the more legitimacy for the Taliban.
Schools are not a quick fix or silver bullet any more than troops are. But we have abundant evidence that they can, over time, transform countries, and in the area near Afghanistan there’s a nice natural experiment in the comparative power of educational versus military tools.
Since 9/11, the United States has spent $15 billion in Pakistan, mostly on military support, and today Pakistan is more unstable than ever. In contrast, Bangladesh, which until 1971 was a part of Pakistan, has focused on education in a way that Pakistan never did. Bangladesh now has more girls in high school than boys. (In contrast, only 3 percent of Pakistani women in the tribal areas are literate.)
For roughly the same cost as stationing 40,000 troops in Afghanistan for one year, we could educate the great majority of the 75 million children worldwide who, according to Unicef, are not getting even a primary education. We won’t turn them into graduate students, but we can help them achieve literacy. Such a vast global education campaign would reduce poverty, cut birth rates, improve America’s image in the world, promote stability and chip away at extremism.
Education isn’t a panacea, and no policy in Afghanistan is a sure bet. But all in all, the evidence suggests that education can help foster a virtuous cycle that promotes stability and moderation. So instead of sending 40,000 troops more to Afghanistan, how about opening 40,000 schools?
And some quotations from students trying to study in Afghanistan,on the BBC site
‘I want to be educated’
Zarmina, 8, lives in the remote Sherzad district, south-west of the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad. Sherzad is not far from the Tora Bora cave complex near the Pakistan border.
“I travel every day for an hour from my village to school. I am in class one and I can write my name. I have made a lot of friends.
“However, we can’t study most days because it’s rainy or windy. I want to be an educated Afghan girl.”
Yasamina, 14“I fetch water every day – it takes about an hour. But, I also go to my school. I walk with my friends for four kilometres every day but I like walking to my school with my friends. I want to be a nurse when I finish my school here.”
“My name is Lema and I am from that village in the mountain. I walk for a long long time with my friends. I like coming to school because we tell stories among ourselves. “I don’t like it when it rains or is windy because we can’t sit outside, so we walk all the way back to our village. I don’t know what I want to be in the future, but I like teaching a lot.”
Is it worth creating schools and giving girls an education? Just revisit the benefits:
Reducing women’s fertility rates. Women with formal education are much more likely to use reliable family planning methods, delay marriage and childbearing, and have fewer and healthier babies than women with no formal education. It is estimated that one year of female schooling reduces fertility by 10 percent. The effect is particularly pronounced for secondary schooling.
Lowering infant and child mortality rates. Women with some formal education are more likely to seek medical care, ensure their children are immunized, be better informed about their children’s nutritional requirements, and adopt improved sanitation practices. As a result, their infants and children have higher survival rates and tend to be healthier and better nourished.
Lowering maternal mortality rates. Women with formal education tend to have better knowledge about health care practices, are less likely to become pregnant at a very young age, tend to have fewer, better-spaced pregnancies, and seek pre- and post-natal care. It is estimated that an additional year of schooling for 1,000 women helps prevent two maternal deaths.
Protecting against HIV/AIDS infection. Girls’ education ranks among the most powerful tools for reducing girls’ vulnerability. It slows and reduces the spread of HIV/AIDS by contributing to female economic independence, delayed marriage, family planning, and work outside the home, as well as conveying greater information about the disease and how to prevent it.
Increasing women’s labor force participation rates and earnings. Education has been proven to increase income for wage earners and increase productivity for employers, yielding benefits for the community and society.
Creating intergenerational education benefits. Mothers’ education is a significant variable affecting children’s education attainment and opportunities. A mother with a few years of formal education is considerably more likely to send her children to school. In many countries each additional year of formal education completed by a mother translates into her children remaining in school for an additional one-third to one-half year.
As Obama reflects on a new approach to Afghanistan, I hope some of these stories become part of the ‘armoury of the arguments’ for a more humane and constructive policy review.
This is an invitation to join the Peace and Collaborative Development Network (http://internationalpeaceandconflict.org), an online initiative to bring together professionals, academics and students involved in Conflict Resolution, Human Rights, International Development, Democratization, Social Entrepreneurship and related fields.
The network fosters interaction between individuals and organizations around the world and currently has over 9600 members. The site is a terrific networking tool where you can find local and international partners and practitioners, share resources, read guides to careers, scholarships, internships, funding, and IT resources in the field, and exchange best practices. Discussion topics and personal blogs can be posted. The site also has a video section where members can access and view videos related to the field.
Now that the conflict in Liberia is over, it is worth seeing what has been done to improve the situation for young people and what still needs to be done. Education and training are key to the future peace of the country.
LIBERIA: Dreams Deferred – Educational and skills building needs and opportunities for youth [publication]
As part of a global, multi-year research and advocacy project focused on strengthening educational and job training programmes for displaced, conflict-affected young people, the Women’s Refugee Commission undertook a field mission to the Republic of Liberia to look at young people’s education and skills-building needs and opportunities. With the demobilisation, disarmament, rehabilitation and reintegration process, which was completed in July 2009, now an opportune time to take stock of the youth employment training that has been ongoing since the end of Liberia’s 14-year civil war in 2003—and to find better ways forward.
While connecting youth to wage employment is challenging given the weak job market in Liberia, the Women’s Refugee Commission, through interviews with national and international organisations, local businesses and young people, identified a number of sectors with potential high labour demand for young people. Specific fields are listed in this report, with special attention to the needs of young people in rural areas where wage jobs in traditional trades are nearly non-existent.
The assessment found that the most successful training programs are those that offer a holistic package of services with literacy/numeracy and life skills in addition to market-driven livelihoods skills training. The best programmes also ensure close linkages between services and pay special attention to graduates’ progress over an extended period after completion of training. The assessment also identified lessons learned and offers recommendations to strengthen future projects and programmes.